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Pope outlines Four Pillars of Christian Unity

February 4, 2012

(Image Credit: William Crawley's BBC Blog)

This article contains excerpts of the pope’s Vatican Radio broadcast in honor of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrated annually Jan. 18-25th (see http://storico.radiovaticana.org).

I will share my own commentary soon. Blessings…

“No-one should go hungry, nobody should be poor in the Christian community,” said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday underlining that one of the four pillars of unity is fellowship and sharing as seen in the early Christian communities of Jerusalem. In a general audience dedicated entirely to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Pope expressed “vivid regret” for the obstacles that still remain on the journey towards full communion in Christ, once again underlining that prayer is the cornerstone of all ecumenical efforts, “the Lord must assist us on this journey, he must still help us a lot, because alone we can do nothing.”

Speaking to a crowded Paul VI audience hall, the Pope traced what he described as the “four pillars” of Christian unity, starting from the witness of early communities of Jerusalem as set out in the Acts of the Apostles, from which this years theme was taken; “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Apostles’ Teaching

First, he said “fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Apostles, listening to the witness that they give to the mission, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus”. “Even today, the community of believers recognizes in reference to the teaching of the Apostles the law for their faith; every effort to build unity among all Christians therefore passes through the deepening of fidelity to the deposit of faith handed down to us by the apostles.”

Fellowship

“The second element is fraternal communion. At the time of the first Christian community, as well as in our day, this is the most tangible expression, especially for the outside world, of unity among the disciples of the Lord. ” In Acts we see that “the early Christians held all things in common, and those who owned properties and possessions sold them to share with the needy. In the history of the Church this sharing of substances found ever new modes of expression. One of these, which is peculiar, is that of relations of fraternity and friendship built between Christians of different confessions. The history of the ecumenical movement is marked by difficulties and uncertainties, but is also a story of brotherhood, cooperation and human and spiritual sharing, that has significantly changed the relationship between believers in the Lord Jesus: we are all committed to continuing on this path.”

Breaking of Bread

(Image Credit: A Catholic-Jew Pontificates)

The third element is “the breaking of bread, in which the Lord Himself becomes present in the one sacrifice of the Cross.” Communion in Christ’s sacrifice is the culmination of our union with God and is therefore also the fullness of the unity of the disciples of Christ, full communion.” Although, continued Pope Benedict, “the inability of separated Christians to share the same Eucharistic table is a reminder that we are still far from the unity which Christ wills for his disciples, it is also an incentive to greater efforts to remove every obstacle to that unity.”

Prayer

Finally, he concluded, “prayer itself helps us realize that we are children of the one heavenly Father, called to forgiveness and reconciliation. During this Week, let us pray that all Christians will grow in fidelity to the Gospel, in fraternal unity and in missionary zeal, in order to draw all men and women into the saving unity of Christ’s Church.”

Shared on Feb. 4, 2012 The Spotless Bride Blog a blog to “Heal the Heart of Disunity” by Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation. Note: Some material shared on blog (images, videos, songs, articles) not owned by author.

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